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Amber Philman
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.



Media are invited to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on April 17 to view

the flight of a privately operated F-104 jet aircraft on the first in
a series of pathfinder test missions from the space shuttle runway.
Starfighters Inc. of Clearwater, Fla., will perform the flights to
help in assessing suborbital space launch trajectories from the
Shuttle Landing Facility and paving the way for future commercial
space tourism and research flights from the facility.

Once the plane has landed at about 10:30 a.m., media will hear brief
comments from KSC Director Bill Parsons and F-104 Pilot Rick
Svetkoff. Media also will have the opportunity to perform one-on-one
interviews and view the aircraft up close at the Shuttle Landing
Facility, also known as the SLF.

"This is a key step toward expanding routine use of the SLF by

non-NASA flight projects, including commercial suborbital and orbital
space launch vehicles," said KSC Director Bill Parsons.

NASA and Starfighters Inc. have signed a cooperative Space Act

Agreement to enable the firm's F-104 aircraft to fly simulated
suborbital flight missions from the spaceport's 15,000-foot runway.
The flights will gather data to support NASA's assessment of
expanding uses of the SLF.

The first two F-104 flights are planned to take place on April 17.
Both flights will generate test data to validate sonic boom
assumptions about the potential impacts of suborbital and orbital
commercial spaceflight from the SLF. NASA is assessing the
environmental impact of such flights.

A Starfighter F-104 will take off from the SLF on a northerly

trajectory, following the flight path anticipated for suborbital
vehicles which may horizontally launch from the SLF. The aircraft
will bank east and head out over the Atlantic, where it will climb to
an altitude and distance representative of where vehicles
accelerating on a suborbital parabolic trajectory will break the
sound barrier.

Ground stations will record any discernible sonic boom noise at

several locations along the coast. This will assess the noise impact
of such flights, both during launches and return flights to a landing
at the spaceport.

Future test flights are planned to investigate communications and

telemetry systems, and to support the validation of operating
procedures that may be used in conducting future suborbital missions
and related training flights.

The agreement between NASA and Starfighters is the latest in a series

of pathfinder projects that have been conducted at the SLF since late
2005 to investigate the expansion of uses and users for the shuttle
runway. NASA's role in such demonstrations and anticipated future
uses is limited to serving as the host site.

Non-government aircraft using NASA's SLF operate in accordance with

applicable Federal Aviation Administration rules and procedures.

Media interested in attending the event must be at the KSC News Center
by 9:30 a.m. for transportation to the SLF.

Media already at KSC attending a different event will be provided

transportation to the SLF.

Permanently badged media interested in attending this event should

contact the KSC News Center (321-867-2468) by close of business April
16. Media without KSC credentials should submit their accreditation
request via the online accreditation Web site at:

Media must be properly dressed in long pants and closed shoes with low
heels. Sleeveless shirts are not allowed.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: